Pentagon creates new space policy job

US Space Force is the newest military branch and now has two regional headquarters, in Hawaii and Florida.

The Pentagon has created a new civilian position in the Space Force that will eliminate a layer of bureaucracy, the Defense Department announced Friday.

The department named Justin Johnson as the acting assistant secretary of defense for space policy, the senior official who will oversee the Pentagon’s space war-fighting policy.

The role, which will be under the under secretary of Defense for policy, is also responsible for coordinating space policy between other agencies and international partners.

The position is one of two new civilian jobs required under the legislation that formed the Space Force. Still to be created is an assistant secretary of the Air Force for space acquisition.   

Space Force was created as the sixth branch of the military in December 2019 when President Trump signed the annual defense policy bill.

The service is aimed at protecting U.S. assets in space, such as satellites, from earthly threats, including U.S. adversaries Russia and China.

The new role is notable as it creates more civilian oversight within the freshly minted service, Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist said in a statement.

“The establishment of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy is a change of the civilian oversight of the space enterprise that aligns with the establishment of the U.S. Space Force and U.S. Space Command,” Norquist said.

Johnson, a former Heritage Foundation analyst, had been the deputy assistant defense secretary for space policy since August.

That role was previously filled by Stephen Kitay, who was appointed by then-Defense Secretary James Mattis in May 2017 but departed this summer.

Johnson has been at the Pentagon since 2016 as part of Trump’s transition team before moving on to various roles.

He will be in his newest position “until such time as an individual is nominated by the President, confirmed by the Senate, and appointed,” according to the Pentagon.

The Space Force made headlines earlier this week for personnel matters, though unintentionally. The combatant command’s vice chief of space operations tested positive for COVID-19, the Air Force revealed on Wednesday.

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